Audiences have been spoilt for choice recently if they’re looking for an action film based on a classic fairytale. The likes of Hansel and Gretel and Snow White have been re-imagined and put into a movie that would be more enjoyable to fans of action. Here we have Jack and the Beanstalk being told slightly differently, in Jack, The Giant Slayer. Unfortunately, a large number of cringe-inducing cliché’s and far too much forced humour hold this flick back from reaching the level of entertainment set by others in this category.
Jack, The Giant Slayer tells the story of a young farmhand – Jack – who accompanies the Royal Guard up a beanstalk in pursuit of a princess, in the hopes of winning her heart. It offers more of a story than just curiosity, as the original story goes, which I suppose could be considered good, but it’s hardly original, and doesn’t really offer anything that we haven’t seen before.
Atop the beanstalk, Jack and the guards find themselves in unknown and hostile territory, which they soon find is inhabited by angry and violent giants. These giants want to return to earth and take revenge on the kin of the king who trapped them there many years ago. Enter Jack, the Giant Slayer!
Whilst his name certainly sounds dramatic, he hardly earns it. The name of the film itself is somewhat misleading, considering that no giants are slain until an hour into the film, and Jack’s total kill count throughout the whole thing being a whopping…three. I’m not sadistic, a film isn’t disappointing because too few people die, but with a name like “the Giant Slayer”, I was hoping for more actual giant slaying. Can you imagine if Buffy only killed 3 vampires? It wouldn’t be great.
But hey, even though the giant slaying is somewhat missing from the film, it would still be possible to make an exciting and tense film right? Wrong. The best word I would use when describing my mood when watching this film is bored. After two hours of people running around, not really doing much, then a hugely anticlimactic final “battle” that boils down to little more than a glorified tug of war, by the time the credits rolled, all I could think of was a long list of better uses for the two hours I’d just spent.
There were a few points where I felt that the film could be saved by some pretty effects. The homeland of the giants atop the beanstalk is certainly a colourful world, but even this is sullied by some truly awful CGI on both the giants and the beanstalk. Plenty of large set pieces show that this film really tries to be a blockbuster, but they look absolutely dreadful, and at times laughable.
I wasn’t just laughing at the effects though. Some of the acting is atrocious. In fact no, most of the acting is atrocious. The characters are overdramatic, the dialogue is horribly written and the delivery is usually just as bad. This is particularly odd, considering the likes of Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and Bill Nighy lending their talent to the cast, but even these stars seemed like they were performing below their usual standard.
One thing I didn’t laugh at is the humour. Forced and dry, the jokes just made me sad. The film aims to keep itself lighthearted, but there were too many moments where the director could have just walked onto the set, looked directly at the camera and shouted “Hey! Wasn’t that funny!”. Okay, the film isn’t a comedy, but that doesn’t excuse how predictable the gags were, and how depressingly forced they seemed.
Jack, the Giant Slayer is not a film worth wasting your money or time on. A few pretty backdrops can’t make up for the long list of flaws that this film has. If I had to choose a final word to top off the review, that word would simply be: don’t.